By David Arkin: CNJ Correspondent
Lt. Col. Gradon E. Mongar enjoyed a long career in the military, flying fighter jets and serving in World War II and Vietnam.
But there was more to Mongar than fast planes and war experiences.
Antiques also played a big role in his life. In fact, after retiring from the service he opened his own antique store in Clovis.
Mongar was a quiet man, but someone whose interests crossed a variety of areas, said his son David Paul Mongar of Clovis.
Gradon Mongar died July 2 at age 80.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps when he was 19. After boot camp he went off to officer’s candidate school and then onto flight school. He was a pilot by the time he was 20.
Early in his career he found himself flying missions in World War II.
David Paul Mongar said his dad flew 88 missions in Germany and France during World War II.
And during his first stint in the Vietnam War in 1969, he flew 100 missions.
But his career took a bit of turn in 1971 when he went back for his second stint in Vietnam, this time as an operations officer.
After his mission in Vietnam ended, he came to Clovis and served his last assignment as a squadron commander at Cannon Air Force Base.
While in Clovis, Gradon Mongar developed an interest in antiques and repairing clocks, his son said.
“He would buy clocks and learn how to repair them,” David Paul Mongar said.
He opened Mongar’s Clock & Antiques in Clovis and ran the shop for eight years.
“He would take college classes on television repair,” David Paul Mongar said. “He was really interested in repairing clocks. If you’ve ever seen the inside of a clock you know that they are pretty wild. They are really complicated.”
But David Paul Mongar said his dad could figure out anything.
“He was very articulate and highly intelligent,” he said.
Folks in town still talk about Gradon Mongar’s antique shop.
“People will come up to me and say, ‘Your Dad fixed my clock and it still runs,’” David Paul Mongar said.
However, once his business in the antique and clock industry ended Gradon Mongar and his wife moved to Albuquerque and eventually moved to Eagle Nest where they lived for 18 years.
“They fished and made a lot of friends,” David Paul Mongar said.